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Amazon

A tale of two Amazons, past and present

I’m concurrently exhibiting two editions of An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest in Dublin and Manila. These editions were selected for the exhibitions to fit their themes, and it’s been fun making them for these two very different cities. The one for Science Gallery Dublin’s In Case of Emergency exhibition features scents I smelled during my residency with LABVERDE in Brazil. These are things I encountered in the forest that are at risk from climate change and other human impacts.

The other one at the Manila Biennale which just opened is an edition that interprets the olfactory memories of 18th & 19th century explorers such as Alexander von Humboldt and Henry Walter Bates. I’m uncomfortably aware that these are narratives of a bunch of white guys as they were all I could find, though I intentionally picked those of naturalists. I’m still on the lookout for records that show a diversity of perspectives if you know of any (language doesn’t matter) as this is an ongoing project that is one of my favorites.

(Hey, at least the one in Dublin is based on the account of a woman, of color, from the developing world and is mixed and multi in most things: me.)

Check these out in Dublin and Manila, and
follow the next steps of this project and other works of The #ApocalypseProject on http://www.apocalypse.cc or #OlfactoryAmazon

Image credits: Science Gallery Dublin (top) and Studio CSY

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The Apocalypse Project‘s Sewer Soaperie and An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest are exhibited in the first Manila Biennale in the walled city of Intramuros. The theme, “Open City,” refers to Intramuros as the origin of Manila’s culture. It is a tribute to the walled city’s beginnings as a port for the Galleon Trade, a time when Intramuros opened itself up to the world and welcomed new ideas, products and people.

Image credit: Manila Biennale

The Sewer Soaperie consists of soaps made from different points in the cycle of oil in human consumption, from palm oil to used oil to raw sewage and fatbergs, to highlight the effects of our impact on cities. Support for this project was given by Arts Collaboratory, Ministry of Culture of Colombia, and Medellín-based arts organizations Platohedro and Casa Tres Patios, where I did a residency in 2016.

This edition of An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest features scents based on the travel narratives of 19th century explorers of the Amazon, where naturalists such as Alfred Russell Wallace and Alexander von Humboldt encountered this ecosystem for the first time, which relates to the “openness” theme of the biennale. Visitors are allowed to smell these scents and inhale the stories of how these explorers encountered the Amazon. On the wall is text that features the passage of the books where I based these scents from. This project was inspired by my residency in the Amazon in 2017, with the support of LABVERDE and the INPA National Institute of Amazonian Research.

Manila, Medellín, and Manaus are cities that are similar in their colonial history, richness of culture and stories, and vulnerabilities to climate change, which the works highlight. It’s been great fun to bring these together for this historic biennale as well as be reminded of my enriching residency experiences in South America, of which the Philippines share very similar characteristics.

The Sewer Soaperie and An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest

This edition of An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest interprets the olfactory memories of 19th century explorers into scent, based on their travel narratives

The installation can be viewed at the biennale lounge. Image credit: Manila Biennale

Manila Biennale 2018 is led by Executive Director Carlos P. Celdran, and this installation is curated by Alice Sarmiento. Thank you!

Image credits: Photos 1-4 by Studio Catherine Sarah Young, 5-7 by Manila Biennale

[Manaus, Brazil] LABVERDE, with whom I did an artscience residency in the Amazon Rainforest last July 2017, has a catalog of all its resident artists for the year.

I’m on pages 128-131, featuring my works, An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest from The Apocalypse Project, and Experiments in Nature from Wild Science.

 

Thank you to the amazing LABVERDE team for all of it!

View the entire thing on LABVERDE’s website.

Anthony King of Nature Magazine writes about Science Gallery Dublin’s “In Case of Emergency” exhibition and mentions The Apocalypse Project and An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest!

“Artist Catherine Sarah Young plays with sensory pleasure of a different sort in An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest. Eight pungent perfumes guide us through the shrinking Amazon. Inspired by a stay in the jungle, Young created the scents — including ‘Earth’, ‘Spices’ and ‘Lianas’ — hoping to provoke an urge to conserve through this most visceral sense, bound tight to memories. She founded the inter- disciplinary Apocalypse Project in 2013, to raise awareness on climate change through art–science works and collaborations. The original Greek meaning of ‘apocalypse’ is, she reminds, ‘lifting of the veil’.”

King, Anthony. “Risk, rout and ruination,” Nature Magazine, Volume 550, Number 7677 page 456, 26 October 2017 issue

Thank you very much to everyone who has ever been a part of these projects!

xo
Catherine

2017’s Death Cards Ritual Cards, which I began since all my near-death experiences and close calls, is The Sunset Wheel!

The Sunset Wheel is inspired by the cyanometer, a tool invented by Swiss physicist Horace-Bénédict de Saussure in the 18th century and used by German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt during his expeditions to South America. While the cyanometer measures the blueness of the sky, The Sunset Wheel measures the colors of the sunset. It is also inspired by my memories of the Amazon where I went on an artscience residency in July, as well as all the sunsets I’ve loved seeing since I was young.

The Sunset Wheel, versions 1 and 2

There are two versions that can be sent as postcards. One looks similar in format to the original cyanometer with a removable center so you can see the sky, and the other one is composed of two disks, where the front circle has the color wheel and the larger one behind it has a window where you can view the sky. The idea is to match a color of the sunset with a color on the wheel, and to note the number/s down.

Since 2013, I’ve been giving these types of cards to people I’ve been grateful for for the year, including family, friends, mentors, people I meet in my travels. I started out with apocalypse badges and origami Santas riding velociraptors—I like to think I get better every year. It’s fun to exercise my creativity on a tiny gratitude card. Life is short, and relationships matter most.

You can also get these on my online shop!

If you have one, feel free to enter the numbers of the colors you see below:

In the Amazon, I “performed” some experiments in the jungle, questioning how science is kept in the ivory towers and how it has failed to affect most of public policy, such as climate change.

Jungle Experiments – Amazon (1), Video (1:20)

 

Jungle Experiments – Amazon (II), Video (1:39)

 

Jungle Experiments – Amazon (III), Video (1:40)


Thank you to LABVERDE Art Immersion Program in the Amazon and photographer Gui Gomes

(Manaus, Brazil)—I’m back from one of the coolest residencies I’ve ever had. From July 20th to 29th, I was in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil together with 14 other international artists. I’m very grateful to have spent this time in nature.
I learned a lot of things and got to do research for An Olfactory Portrait of the Amazon Rainforest!

LabVerde July 2017 edition. Photo by Gui Gomes, courtesy of Lab Verde.

I really liked exploring concepts about science and policy and how science should be more accessible to the public. A new project and line of inquiry came up, yipee!

Experiments in Nature, Nature in Experiments. Photo by Gui Gomes courtesy of LabVerde.

We presented our projects on the last day at the Museu da Amazonia (MUSA).

LabVerde final seminar at MUSA. Image courtesy of LabVerde.

More posts soon, as I recover from jet lag! Thanks, LabVerde, my fellow residents, and everyone else who made this happen. It was an awesome experience!